NAIROBI, March 27 – Kenya face hefty sanctions from the Confederation of African Football (CAF), following crowd trouble that erupted during Harambee Stars’ 1-0 home defeat in 2017 African Cup of Nations qualifier against Guinea Bissau at the Nyayo National Stadium on Sunday.
The game had to be stopped in the 84th minute after a section of fans from the notorious ‘Russia’ stands threw projectiles into the pitch protesting Guinea Bissau goal that had crossed the line despite Stars keeper Arnold Origi doing all he can to parry the strike.
With chants of ‘Okumbi must go’ renting the air, the game was stopped for over half an hour to resumed for the final six minutes when Zimbabwean referee Norman Matemera was convinced that the venue was secure.
Twice, the game was set to go on after a seeming calm had resumed, but a few fans who were still in the stadium threw projectiles forcing the game to be halted again.
A handful of police officers assisted by National Youth Service officers managed to calm down the angry fans for the match to continue.
The trouble attracts a fine from CAF and a probable stadium ban if Kenya is found guilty.
Sanches Semedo scored the contentious goal with eight minutes to stoppage after connecting at the far post from a corner.
However, Origi protested to the first assistant referee Selani Ncube arguing that he had pushed the ball out before crossing the line, but the match official could here none of his complains.
The result left Stars languishing at the bottom of Group E on one point, making it a tall order for them to qualify for 2017 AFCON in a the Pool where Guinea Bissau went top on seven points after Zambia and Congo cancelled each other out 1-1.
Stars should blame themselves after failing to make use of the chances that came their way especially in the first half.
The first effort on goal came in the 20th minute when Clifton Miheso met a Dennis Odhiambo cross but his free header went wide.
Kenya had a series of opportunities three minutes later, first Paul Were’s attempted cross ricocheting off a Guinean player but the ball fell graciously on the keeper before Miheso on the other wing took on his markers, floated in a decent cross but the ball was blocked.
Anthony Akumu picked up the loose ball at the edge of the box but his shot was saved by keeper Jonas Mendes.
Coach Stanley Okumbi had made changes to the team that played in the first-leg away in Bissau with Jockins Atudo coming in for the suspended David ‘Calabar’ Owino while Dennis Odhiambo started at left-back and James Situma shifting to the right side of defense.
Michael Olunga, who was marked throughout the opening exchanges found space at the edge of the box on the half hour mark with a swift turn and shoot on his weaker right foot but it went narrowly wide.
Wanyama also tried his luck from distance but the keeper was well placed to pick up the ball.
With 45 minutes remaining between the AFCON dream dying and remaining alive, Stars were expected to go all out attack with Okumbi introducing Jesse Were for Situma.
The closest chance fell on Olunga who watched agonizingly as his header rolled wide after Miheso had done well to lift the ball over the keeper.
On the other end, Stars were almost caught off guard after Odhiambo’s attempted defensive header fell on Semedo, but Brian Mandela was well placed to deflate the pressure when he slid to block the Guinean striker.
Stars pressed for a goal with both Wanyama and Olunga having shots go wide but the hosts suffered a blow when Mandela was forced out with a groin injury to be replaced by Eric Johannah.
The visitors were sitting calmly, absorbing the pressure and hitting on the counter and in the 70th minute, they almost found the back of the net when Sanches forced Origi for a reflex save after connecting to a Nanisio Mendes cross.